portrait help  »  the process   
Getting Started

Having a portrait painted is a special event in one's life. Few people ever have more than one in a lifetime. Plan to take your time in the selection process as this is an important event. If you're attracted to an artist's work, but don't see an example of the type of portrait you'd like, check with them because they may have what you're seeking, but just didn't happen to put it in their portfolio.

After reviewing the artists carefully and narrowing your search, contact the artist. Ask questions and request more information or samples if you feel this is necessary.

Travel & Artist Location

Each artist has their own policies and procedures. However, in many cases, the artist travels to your location and may stay anywhere from one to several days. Some prefer to stay in a hotel, but other times a client's guest room or house is used. Most artists travel nationally and even internationally for a client, but some prefer to operate only locally. Travel and accomodation fees are normally extra, but a few artists include them in their portrait fee.

Price & Budget

Most of our artists show at least a starting price, others have a full price schedule and a few have chosen to omit prices from their pages altogether. For those who show price information, you can get a quick overview by referring to our Locale & Fees Index or Interactive Map page.

When agreeing to a commission, it's a good idea to have a contract with the price, a description of the portrait and the terms in writing. A deposit from one-third to fifty-percent is normal and this is usually collected at the intial preparation or sitting. Some artists who are very booked will charge a retainer (perhaps 10%) to put you on their schedule, with the balance of the deposit due at the preparation appointment.

& the Setting

There are no hard and fast rules, however, avoid garish colors and loud prints. Neutral tones such as black, brown, white, cream, navy, burgundy and beige will not be tiring to the eye. However, that does not mean you can't wear yellow, pink or other colors — colors convey moods, so think about the mood you'd like. Also, choosing clothes with a classic style will insure that your portrait will not later look dated.

Consider your lifestyle and where the portrait will hang in making the choice of a formal or informal look. Though outdoor portraits are normally considered less formal, there are some that are actually quite formal. Conversely, an indoor portrait could be quite casual. It's a combination of factors, including the clothing, setting and character of the subject.

Strasburg clothes have long been very popular for children's portraits. You can check out some of their selections with a web search.

Some other online places to look for children's clothing are Dapper Lads, Rags Land and Assunta Anichini. However, there are many other online children's clothing sites on the web.


Delivery of your portrait is an exciting moment. Some artists deliver personally and others ship the painting after you've approved it from a photo, transparency or digital image. Most artists will make requested changes before delivery, a few do not, so it's a good idea to ask before you sign a contract. It is usually at this point that the final payment is due.

© 1996 - Artist works, scans and web design protected by copyright.
Site designed by A Stroke of Genius, Inc.